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pontoontodd last won the day on September 5

pontoontodd had the most liked content!

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About pontoontodd

  • Rank
    Certified Subaru Nut

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  • Gender
  • Location
    Loves Park, IL
  • Referral
    search engine, lifted subarus and other mods
  • Biography
    Mechanical engineer, off road racer, trail ride and pre run with Subarus.
  • Vehicles
    1999 Legacy Outback, 1996 Impreza

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  1. Made more clearance between skidplate and engine. Pulled down/straightened out radiator support by welding these big tubes to the skidplate again. This time I welded the "hooks" to the radiator support so they wouldn't slip off. I think I had it a little beyond straight under load but that was about the best I could do. It sprung back to slightly bent but was definitely pulled down from where I started. I was trying to figure out how to reinforce things and B suggested welding another piece of tubing to the bottom of the radiator support. Since it's at the back edge it doesn't really hurt approach angle or get in the way. Could have actually fit a 1" x 2" tube vertically but would have had to mostly cut out the gussets on the skidplate so I thought 1" square was a good compromise. Fully welded with new tabs for skidplate and longitudinal tubes to the swaybar mounts. Have already replaced three of the six skidplate side tabs with 2" wide (they all started 1" wide). Gusseted the remaining original tabs. Cut more clearance for the engine and rewelded a couple seams that opened up. Trying to make it Nevada proof. Repainted top and sides. Didn't bother with the bottom, that stays paint and rust free from use. Lateral tubes were pretty beat, this picture doesn't show how bad they were, but bent/smashed at the bolt holes. I welded in tubes on the new ones and ground the welds flush. Painted and reassembled. Got the side skidplates back on too, no big changes there, welded a couple washers on some wallered out holes and hit them with a little paint. They were a pain to install mainly due to the radiator support being pulled down. Will see if those settle in a little with use, fortunately they don't have to come off often. Will probably work on our shock tuning area this weekend before the ground freezes. Anxious to improve the shock tuning further. Also sounds like I'll be building a few new sets of struts over the winter.
  2. pontoontodd

    '01 outback 2.5AT, VDC offroad/ overlanding build

    Sounds great. If you start beating on it offroad, then it won't be pretty, and then you won't feel bad about beating on it offroad. The EZ30 and 4EAT does really pull once you get going. I'm disappointed by the low speed acceleration in my 2002 but my 2001 is pretty good. I would see if you can fit one of your 16" rims from your old car on the new car, but the front brakes might be too big. If they do fit, get some off road tires for those 16" rims so you have more sidewall height.
  3. pontoontodd

    '01 outback 2.5AT, VDC offroad/ overlanding build

    So this is an Outback? What year? Where is the rust? Underhood pics? What are your plans for this one? Do you still have the old one?
  4. pontoontodd

    '01 outback 2.5AT, VDC offroad/ overlanding build

    How much is the car? How much does the shop want to replace the head gaskets and mill the heads (basically always needed on the EZ engines from what I've read)? What year is it and how many miles? Is there any rust visible anywhere on the car? If you can buy the car and have the head gaskets replaced for less than you'd pay for a car that doesn't need head gaskets then it's a good deal. Supposedly the EZ engines have very few head gaskets problems but of the six engines I've had in three different cars, only one of them has no head gasket leak. Most of them are very minor, you just have to add coolant every 500 miles or so. In the long run I think you'd be better off with a rust free Cherokee or Toyota for the low speed off roading you're trying to do. Are you still driving your 2001 OB? I'd just run some longer bolts all the way through the floor and get that trailing arm mount back in place for the time being. Even a big ratchet strap through the floor would hold it well enough for pavement driving while you get a replacement.
  5. That's a good question and one we want to answer over the winter. I'm guessing with the cage, jacks, and fuel cell it's almost 4000#. On a trip like that we have a good 500# of cargo in it, figure 300-400# for driver and passenger, so 4500# ++ loaded. During a desert race it's closer to 200# of cargo (tools, spares, etc). The main reason we're not bottoming out is the long travel struts with spring rates and damping for hard driving. This car bottomed out all the time on the stock struts and springs when driven hard without the cage, jacks, fuel cell, H6, etc.
  6. Overall it was a good trip. We made progress tuning the shocks and got some ideas for how to improve them further. End of the V2R course didn't seem too bad so we're planning on trying that again next year. Frame fix was one of our best yet. Have to improve some things over the winter. No CV axle replacements so the softer springs on the Forester probably helped with that. I put just over 5000 miles on my car. Got 18-20mpg on the highway, considerably better than the 17mpg I am used to with the EZ30. Wondering if the fuel pump or an injector is going bad. Optimistically it could be due to improved flow through the new (to the car) cats. Only used two quarts of engine oil, B said the Forester's oil consumption was less than that. The three big things I decided we should do to my black Outback before the V2R are: rear strut tower reconstruction and addition of tubes to rollcage front skidplate lowering/adding engine clearance – already started on this safety wiring and/or cotter pinning all suspension fasteners and exhaust manifold nuts There are many other modifications, inspections, and preventative maintenances that are on the list too. I've been thinking about it for a while but T made us think about weight reduction more, we think we can take 100# or more out of the car fairly easily while lowering the center of gravity.
  7. Saturday morning we headed north up SW #18 Smoky Mountain road, it was a wide and fairly smooth dirt road. We actually saw people camping and on an ATV. There were a few decent jumps on this road, one was a cattle guard just before a fairly hard right hand turn. We got some video of the cars hitting that. There was another big uphill tabletop that we decided would have to wait for another trip. By the time we got to the town of Escalante it was time to drive straight home on pavement. Just north of the town of Escalante there was a narrow ridge road with no guardrails with amazing views. Driving through Escalante we saw probably the best overlooks of the trip, it's over 10k feet and you can see a huge amount of red rock formations down at 5k feet, like looking out of a plane. We drove through Escalante and Capitol Reef national parks but didn't have time to really check them out. We passed Swingarm City stunt area and avoided the temptation to spend time there. We camped at a big sandy lake in Nebraska. Sunday morning we packed up and continued driving back. I had noticed a slight vibration but thought maybe it was just the concrete. Somewhere in Iowa I heard a pop and the vibration increased. Pulled over and didn't see any obvious problems or leaks so we got off at the next exit and drove to a parking lot. The front u-joint was sloppy, somehow one of the cups had come out. Put in a new one and snapring and continued. We all got home without any more problems.
  8. Friday morning we tried going up a few trails that we could see from the campsite but they were ultimately gated off. Found the tunnel/underpass to get to the main dune/rock area. There's a large hill you can drive up either on fairly extreme rock crawling trails or a long soft sandy grade. We weren't able to get all the way to the top in the sand so we decided to go elsewhere. The next trail we went to was Massey SW #15 Skutumpah Road. We had to drive through Zion National park, scenery was amazing but we had to wait a couple times for a half hour due to traffic/construction. We did see mountain goats sitting about 20' off the road I think going through Zion. When we got to the start of the road there was a sign indicating it was closed 15 miles ahead (it's a 33 mile long road). We decided to drive up it and see if it was actually closed (it was, but I think more than 15 miles in) and then took some side roads/trails instead. These followed some soft sandy/gravelly washes through some small canyons until we got to 95. Many soft sandy sections and portions that were cut/milled into solid rock. Those road beds probably don't require much maintenance. After we drove east on 95 we drove Massey SW #20 Nipple Creek / Tibbet canyon which was my favorite on this trip. It was a good Subaru difficulty level – the average lifted Forester/Outback could probably have done it but I don't think my stock Impreza could have. Fun sections in canyon washes and some awesome views. I think it was on this trail we observed that we'd driven for a few hours with no signs of current or former human habitation aside from the road we were driving on. Then we drove up SW #21 Smoky Hollow trail. We camped out on a big flat tailings pile from an old coal mine. We made a campfire and burned oily rags, cardboard, wood, a cow pie, and coal all at the same time.
  9. Thursday morning we drove the rest of the way back to Vegas and dropped R off at his WRX and he drove home. While we were in town we figured we should fix the Outback strut tower better. We bought an angle grinder, assortment of wheels, extension cord, and a decent ratchet strap from Harbor Freight and rented a welder and bought some steel strap and tubing from Home Depot. We drove around town for about an hour through a big city park, checking out some RV campgrounds, following Google's directions onto an army base, and looking behind the Home Depot and Harbor Freight for outlets with no luck. So we proceeded with plan G – renting a generator from Home Depot. Their largest model is 6800 watts and is wheelbarrow style with handles and wheels. Guy asked if we needed help loading it in our vehicle and we just told him no. I used the piece of welding glass we keep in the car. I'm shocked they rent welders to the public without even suggesting they buy or rent a welding helmet. Fabrication went relatively smoothly, welds turned out OK for flux core. Ran two strips from the strut mount plate down to some solidish sheet metal. Added a couple tubes from just above the strut mount to the bottom of the main roll hoop and the top of the trailing arm mount. It's no spare tire inflated against the roof but it held the rest of the week. We've been talking about a portable welder all year and now we're convinced we need to come up with something. A flux core spool gun wouldn't take up much space or weigh much. Two batteries or a modified alternator would probably work as a power source. Packed everything back up, got dinner at a Mexican restaurant near there, and headed out of town. Hit a random trail/dirt road in AZ along 15 that had a few little jumps on it. Got to Sand Hollow State Park near St. George, UT after dark and paid the primitive camping fee and found a spot along the edge of the lake with a picnic table. Lake has swimmer's itch (caused by the snails that live there). It was crawling with golf carts, Jeeps, etc. Had a small praying mantis on my tent while I was setting it up.
  10. We drove up the highway to the closest PRC (public road crossing) to the end of the V2R course, 42 miles from the end. As soon as we got on the highway I felt like the car was leaning to the right a bit but quickly forgot about it. Not too far in to the race course, B's car was running hot in the soft washes so we stopped to let it cool off. While we were stopped, Z suggested looking for the source of the noise coming from the back of the Outback. There was a 1-2” gap in the crack in the RR strut tower that I'd welded up before the trip. Weld itself seemed to hold, there's just not much structure left there. We got out the heavy duty safety wire and a couple ratchet straps, jacked up the car and pulled the strut tower back down to about where it was. We found a rock to jam in the frame and hose clamped that in place. We got going again and went by a smaller lake bed that had a burned out first generation Mazda RX7 next to it. We spent some time examining that. It's amazing to me how hot a car fire can get, the transmission case was even melted on this one and the springs were fully compressed from losing their temper. We then got to a rocky wash that's part of the course but were able to drive through it without any problems. We drove up a long rocky grade, maybe five miles uphill through 6-8” rocks. Not extremely steep but had to keep moving due to the lack of low range. Made it through that alright and there was nothing too rough beyond that. Unfortunately we did not get pictures or videos of these rough sections. When we started coming down the far side of the mountain there was some new equipment parked along the road that had been smoothing it out. Perhaps they will smooth out the entire road. Near the end of the course we came up to what at first looked like a fairly tall, steep hillclimb. We were able to get a run at it in second and downshift to first most of the way up and made it to the top more easily than expected. Made it to Dayton, got fuel and burgers, and drove back south. Got to Tonopah about 10PM and decided to stay there for the night. I thought we'd really be missing a great opportunity if we didn't stay at the “world famous” Clown Motel so we did that. The rooms aren't anything special but the price was decent, beds were alright, and the shower was higher pressure than I'm used to. In one room was a large painting of Jason from Friday the 13th.
  11. Wednesday morning we ate breakfast and packed up. While we were packing up and telling stories, B pointed out a switchback trail up a mountain across the highway and we of course all thought it was a great idea to try to drive the Subarus up it. It was fairly steep and rocky but we made it up about 2/3 of the way pretty quickly. Eventually I got to a point where I ran out of power/gearing and slowly backed down to the previous switchback/intersection and waited. B and R got quite a bit higher, they think near the top, and the trail eventually got too loose and steep so he had to come back down. He had trouble getting it back in high range so we decided he should not use low range the rest of the trip unless absolutely necessary.
  12. pontoontodd

    '01 outback 2.5AT, VDC offroad/ overlanding build

    If you can get all the allen bolts out it probably wouldn't be too bad. Just warning you it's more complicated than doing a water pump on an EJ. It will just keep leaking more, eventually it'll leak bad enough you'll have to add coolant every time you drive it. If you let it go long enough you'd probably also have timing chain issues and start bending valves.
  13. Eventually we decided to see other parts of Nevada, repacked T's car and aired back up. He rode with me in my Outback down the ~5 mile whooped out road/trail to the main gravel road. We were going 50mph and he was amazed the whole time by what the car could do. There were a few spots where we'd get air going into a sweeping turn, it was a fun stretch. Our next stops were a few spots along the 2016 and 2017 V2R courses that we'd wanted to revisit. The first one was a highway underpass the course went through in 2017. Took about a five mile trail to get there eventually driving in a wash. A concrete tunnel goes under the highway that's only about 8 feet tall. There were various scrape marks down the roof of it from trucks and buggies that barely fit. On the opposite side of the highway is a giant pile of 2' rocks the highway department piled up to reduce erosion. We did not drive through it but decided if it was part of the course again we'd just have to take it slow and hope for the best. Then we drove up the highway to some other trails leading to a cattle guard jump along a gravel road we'd hit at about 80mph during the 2017 race. We were going slightly downhill, the opposite direction we'd raced in, and figured we could just try it at increasing speeds so the first time I hit it at 65 and we got some air, seemed like we could hit it faster. T pulls up and says he hit it at 80. We didn't believe him at first. Hit it both ways a few times, seemed like 80 uphill and 90 downhill was about all my Outback could do. Landed fine. Apparently T hit it uphill once and had a bouncy squirrelly landing so he parked his car. We continued up the former race course, part of which was surprisingly overgrown. We cut over to the 2016 course to go over a mountain and hit a different jump. On the way to the downhill jump we were circling a dry lake bed so we decided to drive down to that. We got some pictures and videos of the cars driving around on the lake bed. The surface was sticky, I couldn't get my car to slide around at all and didn't want to roll it. One end had many bushes about a hundred feet apart, it was fun to drive through them at speed. The lake bed was almost three miles across the long way. At one point Z was riding with me and we both felt disoriented with tan in every direction for a mile or so and I slowed down. We drove the long grade up the mountain and had some of the shifting back and forth between third and fourth we'd experienced in 2016. Except then we had the four cylinder and I think it was second and third. At the top the tailing pile had shifted the road over to the side. I think it was downhill from that we drove the narrow switchback trail through the pine forest. B still wonders how the trophy trucks get through that section – it has a bunch of tight, narrow U turns. We hit the downhill jump at 70mph which just felt like the car was getting light but the cameramen did say we were leaving the ground. I didn't feel comfortable going over 70mph on that road so we continued up to Tonopah. T parked his car and B and I tried to drive a switchback up a small mountain/large hill but it turned out to be a bit of a maze so we came back down. We did get a good view of town and some wild horses though. Looks like the road leading down from that saddle into town has a bunch of jumps along it but we went back down to where T was parked. We continued on the race course that follows some white hard ground that tasted salty, appeared to be a few foot deep salt deposit that went on for miles. We continued to some concrete barriers in the wash at a break in an old railroad grade where there were a lot of spectators. We couldn't figure out at first how the trophy trucks make it through there, the gap between the barriers is maybe 7' wide, but then we decided they must just drive over one side (these concrete piers are about 2' high). There was an old oil pan embedded in the wash, we decided someone probably thought they were going to clear one of the concrete barriers and then it ripped their oil pan off. We took a short trail to the highway and drove into Tonopah for gas and to cook some food. Talked to T, he decided to stay the night in Tonopah and decide his fate in the morning. We warned him that the last forty miles of the V2R course we wanted to run the next day would be too rough for his car. We drove to a city park and cooked dogs. Then we headed farther up 95 and camped at Walker lake. On the way down the road to the campground there were signs for the former lake levels in increasingly recent years. Z said he read that as the river has been diverted for agriculture the lake has been draining. It was quite salty.
  14. We asked J for a good place to camp north of town and he recommended some sand dunes just off 95 so we drove up there and camped overnight. Those are the dunes just to the right of the sign beyond the power lines. Tuesday morning we ate breakfast, packed up, and drove the last few miles to the big dune. It was certainly described accurately, the center dune was hundreds of feet high with no tire tracks going to the top of it. I was driving over one dune when we suddenly got to a sharp drop off the other side so I turned to avoid it and got stuck shortly afterwards because I was going too slow. We aired down the tires and got it out with the sand ramps and pushing. Aired down the other cars, and took turns driving each others' cars around the dunes. T's suspension was bottoming out easily so we unpacked his cargo while we drove around the dunes. I found one good little jump, the last time I hit it the driver's side got up much higher than the passenger side. Since it was soft sand the landing was fine.
  15. pontoontodd

    '01 outback 2.5AT, VDC offroad/ overlanding build

    If the water pump seal is leaking, coolant will come from the weep hole. It's just to the driver's side (left side of the car looking forward) of the crank behind the timing covers, same as the EJ. The water pump replacement isn't much easier than head gaskets on the EZ though, you have to remove the timing chain cover, chains, tensioners, etc. It's about sixty allen bolts, some of which will strip out, so it's really a lot easier to do with the engine out of the car.